Yesterday I was reminded of something – that we all have things to learn from each other – if only we take the time to listen, really listen.

I hear a lot of talk about the generation gap, about how the new people in the workforce don’t take time to learn from the experience of the older ones, and how the older people think they have nothing to learn from the ‘kids’. The truth is, we all have things to learn from everyone. We all have things to teach each other. We all have different experiences to draw on, and different skills and knowledge to share.

I sat down with someone yesterday and, in less than an hour, he had reminded me of things I thought I knew, taught me a few new things, and made me grin in a way that lasted all day. It was like having my own motivational speaker / business coach all rolled into one person – and I need that sometimes. He doesn’t do any of these things for a living (but if he ever wants to be a speaker I would want to be his agent).

Many of you won’t be surprised when I tell you his name – Gene Fortier, State Farm Agent and ‘Mayor’ of River Ranch. Gene likes to tell stories, and they are stories well worth listening to. If you ever want to learn how to set goals, stay focused and make your dreams come true then Gene is someone you should meet.

Gene is highly successful, you can tell that by the big smile on his face (that’s how success is measured) and as he told me a number of times, he didn’t get that way by being smart (I think there are many ways to measure smart). His story is pretty average though, he was slow to start speaking as a child, took a few extra years to get through school and didn’t graduate college until his 30’s. What the man knew how to do is dream. He knew what he wanted and didn’t worry about knowing how to get it. He used the word blessed about a thousand times, and meant it every single time.

Many of us set goals, many of us dream a little, most of us don’t follow through. Years before ‘The Secret’ Gene was dreaming big, and cutting out photos of the things that he was dreaming of. He kept focussed, achieved his dream, and then he did something very few people do – he remembered to celebrate the fact. His office is a testament to the things he has done, the things he worked for, and dreamed about. He sees evidence everyday of the success he created, and that keeps him motivated and smiling like a child who just got what they wanted for Christmas.

The people you meet in your life today have something to teach you, they may not tell stories of success like Gene, but they may remind you of something you need to (or need not to) do.


This column first appeared in The Daily Advertiser on Tuesday 21st 2012, all usual rights and stuff reserved.